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Today’s Headlines: Tom Girardi faced over 150 complaints before State Bar took action

A man with gray hair and wearing a suit gestures while speaking inside a courtroom.
Tom Girardi in court in 2014.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
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Hello, it’s Friday, Nov. 4, and first up we’d like to highlight the incredible work on the Los Angeles Times Short Docs platform. The Times’ Nani Walker told us that over the last year she and L.A. Times Studios’ Leslie Lindsey had had the privilege of supporting and elevating the work of a talented and diverse group of emerging filmmakers.

“As a programmer, I am proud to say that two of our films made it to acclaimed industry Short Lists. ‘Nasir’ made it on the DOC NYC Short List, and ‘ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (What They’ve Been Taught)’ made it on the IDA Short List.”

You can watch all the documentaries in the series here.

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TOP STORIES

Tom Girardi faced more than 150 complaints before the State Bar took action

In response to a lawsuit brought by The Times, the State Bar of California disclosed that the agency received scores of complaints against legal legend Girardi alleging he misappropriated settlement money, abandoned clients and committed other serious ethical violations over the course of his four-decade career.

There were 205 complaints, and 155 arrived before the bar took action against Girardi’s law license in March 2021. As his stature as a trial attorney and political powerbroker grew, officials closed numerous complaints against Girardi without doing any investigation and rejected dozens of others for “insufficient evidence,” the records show.

The L.A. mayoral race is a nail-biter

The race for mayor of Los Angeles was tightening rapidly as it entered its final week, with Rick Caruso cutting deeply into Rep. Karen Bass’ lead, putting him within striking distance in the contest to run the nation’s second-largest city.

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Bass continues to hold an edge, 45% to 41% among likely voters, with 13% saying they remain undecided, according to a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, co-sponsored by The Times. But Bass’ advantage is within the poll’s margin of error and strikingly smaller than the 15-point margin she held a month ago.

More politics

  • Immigration officials say David DePape, the man charged with attempted murder in connection with a violent attack against Paul Pelosi, is in the U.S. illegally and could be deported to Canada.
  • California’s 3rd Congressional District stretches 450 miles from Death Valley to Tahoe and past Sacramento suburbs. Residents ask what they have in common.
  • For some, San Francisco D.A. Brooke Jenkins has ushered in a necessary crackdown on crime; for others, she’s a political pawn intent on dragging the city back to a failed tough-on-crime era.
  • Rick Caruso’s dad made two fortunes and did jail time. How he shaped his son’s ambitions.

Sign up for our California Politics newsletter to get the best of The Times’ state politics reporting and the latest action in Sacramento.

The left now rules most of Latin America. Will it be able to live up to its promises?

Over the last four years, leftist candidates have won presidential elections in Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Colombia. Now Brazil has cemented the trend. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s narrow victory Sunday means the left will soon control six of the region’s seven largest economies.

Although some have christened the region’s latest leftward turn a “new pink tide,” likening it to a similar shift in the 2000s, when leaders including Lula, Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales pumped money into welfare programs and lifted millions out of poverty, conditions are starkly different now.

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Today, the economic picture is much bleaker, as inflation drives up food and fuel prices and the threat of a worldwide recession looms.

Are the unvaccinated still a danger to others? It’s complicated.

For almost two years, COVID-19 vaccine holdouts have been the objects of earnest pleading and truth campaigns. Some have missed weddings, birthday celebrations and recitals, and even forfeited high-stakes athletic competitions. Until last month, they were barred from entering the U.S. and more than 100 other countries.

Now the unvaccinated mingle freely in places where they used to be shunned for fear they’d seed superspreader events. It’s as if they’re no longer hazardous to the rest of us. Or are they?

“Clearly, the unvaccinated are a threat to themselves,” said one infectious diseases specialist. But “the danger to the rest of us is a more debatable issue.”

Stay up to date on variant developments, case counts and vaccine news with Coronavirus Today.

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With Twitter layoffs set to start, employees worry about getting their severance

In recent years, big technology companies have dangled ever more generous benefits to entice engineers in a seller’s talent market. Layoffs, a rarity in Silicon Valley over the last decade, have typically come with the consolation of generous severance packages often including months of salary and healthcare coverage.

Now that expectation is collapsing — and nowhere more rapidly than at Twitter, where thousands of employees are suddenly facing the prospect of joblessness. Under new owner Elon Musk, the social media platform is preparing to terminate a large portion of its workforce — reportedly about half of its 7,500 workers.

Check out "The Times" podcast for essential news and more.

These days, waking up to current events can be, well, daunting. If you’re seeking a more balanced news diet, “The Times” podcast is for you. Gustavo Arellano, along with a diverse set of reporters from the award-winning L.A. Times newsroom, delivers the most interesting stories from the Los Angeles Times every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

CALIFORNIA

A catalytic converter theft ring made hundreds of millions of dollars before it was busted. The operation is the Justice Department’s first national takedown of a catalytic converter theft ring, which circulated stolen auto parts around the country. Authorities conducted arrests, searches and seizures in California, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia.

Paul Pelosi was released from the hospital. The husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi left the hospital six days after he was severely beaten by an intruder inside the couple’s San Francisco home. In a statement, Speaker Pelosi said her husband “remains under doctors’ care as he continues to progress on a long recovery process and convalescence.”

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Southern California mountains saw the season’s first snow, with another storm forecast for next week. Mountain areas from L.A. County to San Diego County saw up to 2 inches of snow, accompanied by winds of 20 to 30 mph, gusting up to 45 mph. A new system is expected early next week, bringing a good chance of rain, as well as more winds and cooler temperatures.

A former Santa Clara County sheriff was found guilty on all counts in a civil corruption trial. Laurie Smith was found guilty on six counts of committing willful or corrupt misconduct in office, the San Francisco district attorney’s office confirmed. The unusual trial was a civil proceeding that only sought to remove Smith from her position. Although Smith tried to preempt the verdict by abruptly stepping down from office Monday and requesting to dismiss the case, a judge ordered it to continue.

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NATION-WORLD

U.S. Embassy officials visited Brittney Griner in Russian prison. Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow visited the jailed WNBA star as American officials pressed for her release from a nine-year sentence for drug possession. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Griner was “doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances.”

The world needs chromite and lithium. Afghanistan has them. What happens next? The country is believed to sit atop mineral deposits essential to creating batteries, with a supply so vast that the Taliban is touting them as a panacea for Afghanistan’s economic ills. Those potential subterranean riches have sent foreign powers such as China, Russia and Iran scrambling for a share — but not the U.S.

Former Pakistani leader Imran Khan was shot in an attack. A gunman opened fire at a campaign truck carrying the former Pakistani prime minister, wounding him in the leg and killing one of his supporters, his party and police said. Nine others were also wounded.

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HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Phil Spector killed her. The press tarred her. Her mother wants to “set the story straight.” Donna Clarkson talked with The Times about daughter Lana, who in the docuseries “Spector” is finally portrayed as a fully rounded human — a vibrant creative spirit, supportive friend and resilient working actor — rather than just another Hollywood blonde who met an untimely demise.

How do you make a show about “Blockbuster” for the streamer that helped kill it? “Call out Netflix.” Vanessa Ramos, the creator and showrunner of Netflix’s comedic ode to the movie rental franchise, spoke to The Times about her new series, a workplace comedy following the lives of employees working at the once-booming franchise’s last operating store in Bend, Ore.

Trolls came for rising star Xochitl Gomez. Then she took matters into her own hands. Earlier this year, she joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe with her debut as queer Latina superhero America Chavez. But although her career hasn’t been long, she understands the power of representation — and the backlash it could provoke.

Quentin Tarantino will never make a Marvel film. The director spoke with columnist Glenn Whipp about the latest phase of his career and his new book, “Cinema Speculation.” It’s his first nonfiction title, which evolved from a mere appreciation of his favorites to a survey of films that inspired a “point of view worth talking about.”

CBS and an LAPD captain led a cover-up of a sexual assault report against Les Moonves, New York’s attorney general says. The AG’s report details an elaborate cover-up at the highest levels of CBS in late 2017 and 2018 to try to contain allegations of sexual harassment by former chief Moonves.

BUSINESS

The investigation of the poker scandal is likely to satisfy no one. More than a month has passed since an explosive cheating accusation on “Hustler Casino Live” upended the poker world. But there appear to be no clear-cut answers about what did or didn’t happen Sept. 29 when top high-stakes cash player Garrett Adelstein accused newcomer Robbi Jade Lew of cheating in a $269,000 hand that he lost. As the investigation goes on, the No. 1 cash game poker stream continues broadcasting on YouTube, with daily viewership up about 35% since Sept. 29.

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“‘We did not get rid of any show that was helping us.” Warner Bros. Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav addressed the significant cuts made at the company during the last six months, framing them as part of a fundamental “rethinking and reimagining” of how the media giant works as the entertainment industry endures a period of dramatic transformation.

OPINION

Worker productivity has fallen, and experts are puzzled. I’m not. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity took a nosedive in the first half of 2022. “I am no economist, but I am a worker, and this feels like less of a conundrum than an answer: People are freaking tired, man,” writes Times culture columnist and critic Mary McNamara.

An “eye-popping” new survey on Americans’ acceptance of political violence should be a wake-up call to leaders. Roughly 5 million Americans would be willing to kill someone to achieve a political purpose, according to a new UC Davis study. And to think, most of us grew up proudly believing that one great thing about America was that we settled our political disputes at the ballot box — not with bombs or guns or a hammer — writes Times Capitol Journal columnist George Skelton.

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SPORTS

Column: Seven games into his head coaching career, the Lakers’ Darvin Ham wisely trusts his gut. Ham usually carries a card that lists his options for plays he can call after a timeout, or when he needs a three-point shot. He didn’t have it with him when the Lakers faced New Orleans on Wednesday, but he had something better: a gut feeling about how to manage the closing seconds and a sense of fearlessness that could be one of his strongest assets, writes Helene Elliott. Also: Inside the biggest shot of the Lakers’ season — how Matt Ryan hit an impossible three.

Bob Baffert is returning to race in Kentucky for the first time since last year’s Derby. The trainer is embroiled in a bitter battle with Churchill Downs Inc., which banned him after then-Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for a medication that’s not legal on race day. Now Baffert is at Keeneland, one of two major tracks in Kentucky not owned by CDI, with Cave Rock, the favorite in today’s Juvenile for 2-year-olds.

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YOUR WEEKEND

A two-story garage conversion in Venice features a lower-level open studio with a VW.
A two-story garage conversion in Venice by Bau10, which shares space with a white stucco home, will be open for tours this weekend.
(Paul Vu)

If you’ve wondered what living small is really like, take an ADU tour. In Los Angeles, where home prices and rents are spiking, accessory dwelling units have become a powerful tool that allows homeowners to make the most of their properties. But perhaps you’re unsure about committing to construction, or just want a peek at how others live. The Entrepreneur-in-Residence program under L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office is hosting a free, self-guided tour of accessory dwelling units from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Admission to all of the homes is free.

Buy some apples and get cooking. Our colleague Julie Giuffrida, The Times Test Kitchen coordinator, looks at what apples to use — crunchy, tangy, juicy, sweet or tart — for the best flavor in five recipes: including oatmeal, salad and desserts. Such as: Apple Schalet. Baked overnight in an oven at very low heat, it’s a cross between noodle kugel and bread pudding.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.

Don’t take that huge hospital bill at face value. That’s the advice from a couple billed more than $10,000 by a Wisconsin hospital after one of them broke an arm skiing. The patient was a doctor, and his wife oversees billing for her husband’s medical practice. Turns out, the bill included a $7,000 procedure that was never performed. Getting it hammered out entailed a year hitting dead ends; they even sought help from their state attorney general. They have tips for people disputing medical bills. NBC News

Would you sell your vacation days for cash? In the last few years, startups have popped up that partner with employers to buy out workers’ unused vacation days. For companies that don’t offer unlimited vacation, it can save them money; if an employee leaves later and vacation days must be paid out, they might be making a higher wage by that time. Paid-time-off balances ballooned during the pandemic, helping the programs to spread. “The stark reality is that Americans don’t use all their time off, a phenomenon that long preceded the pandemic.” Wired

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

A man walks up a giant piece of collapsed pipe on a hillside.
Circa 1920s: A section of aqueduct is twisted after an explosion. Owens Valley inhabitants angry over deception in the diversion of water were behind several bombings.
(Los Angeles Times)

One hundred and nine years ago this week, on Nov. 5, 1913, the Los Angeles Aqueduct opened. Forty thousand people gathered in Sylmar to watch the water arrive from the Owens Valley. The Times wrote about the opening on its 100th anniversary: “At 1:15 p.m. that day, William Mulholland, the city’s chief water engineer, gave a signal, and crews turned two steel wheels, opening gates that sent the first sparkling water into the waiting San Fernando Reservoir.”

Mulholland told the cheering crowd: “There it is — take it.”

Deception and stealth were used to obtain land and water rights, and construction brought its own drama as immigrants earning $2.25 a day (minus 25 cents per meal) risked rock slides, cave-ins, falling debris and other hazards; at least 43 died. The 280 miles of pipeline were laid and 142 tunnels built (with 6 million pounds of dynamite) over the course of five years. More here.

We appreciate that you took the time to read Today’s Headlines! Comments or ideas? Feel free to drop us a note at headlines@latimes.com.

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